A look at DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket promotion

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NEW YORK (AP) — The lockout is over and pro football fans are looking forward to the pre-season kickoff Thursday. Riding that wave of anticipation, DirecTV is offering new subscribers free access to its NFL Sunday Ticket, which lets fans watch any Sunday game.

The satellite TV provider says subscribers can also access the programming on their computers, cellphones and iPads. Here’s what you should know about the deal:

THE DETAILS

DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket offer is free for subscribers who sign up for a two-year contract. However, the programming is only free for the first year. After that, customers will be automatically renewed for the Sunday Ticket at a rate that’s to be determined. The one-time price for this year is $335.

DirecTV says subscribers can opt to cancel the Sunday Ticket service in the second year without incurring any penalty fees. Customers who want to cancel the entire contract would be charged $20 for every month remaining in the contract.

The promotion ends Oct. 5.

If you’re interested in checking out the deal, be sure to carefully review the pricing when comparing various packages on DirecTV’s site. The monthly bill listed with each package can rise dramatically over the course of the contract as promotions expire.

To see how your bill could change, click the small “next six 6 months” icon by the listed price. One basic service package, for example, starts at $36.99 a month. Once certain promotions end after the third month, the bill rises to $81.99.

Then after the first year, subscribers would see their monthly bill rise to $117.99 as another discount on the package ends.

THE BACKGROUND

DirecTV, which is available in the majority of U.S. markets, competes with providers such as Time Warner, Comcast and Dish Network. The company has a deal with the NFL to be the exclusive provider of access to all Sunday games.

Last week, Comcast Corp. filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago accusing DirecTV of false advertising over its promotion. Comcast says the campaign doesn’t make it clear that the deal requires a two-year contract and that the Sunday Ticket is not free in the second year.

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said in a statement that “it’s deplorable that Comcast is trying to compete in the courtroom rather than the marketplace.” He noted that customers can cancel the Sunday Ticket programming in the second year of the contract without penalty.